If you have decided that it’s time to take that first step in your planned exit strategy of selling the firm, you may have questions regarding what your next steps should be.
The next steps you should think through as you move to sell your public relations agency are:
1. Do you know your true reason for wanting to sell?
Are you burned out? Do you want to hand the reigns over to a partner(s)? Do you want to retain any ownership of the firm at all, or do you want to sell it in its entirety? These are important questions to answer because any buyer will want to know – and deserves to know – your reasons for selling the agency.
2. Do you know your “recasted” bottom line?
If not, you have some work to do because this is a sign that you are not currently running your agency as a real business. You may service your clients well, but if you don’t know exactly where your profits are coming from and where/how you are investing it, it’s not a real business and potential buyers will see that. They do not want a “Lifestyle” firm.
3. Have you been embracing your firm’s financial profile against industry benchmarks?
As you move toward selling your agency, it’s time to do so. If necessary, bring in a PR business financial consultant who can compare your stats against best practices industry benchmarks. He/she will look at things such as: are you overstaffed? Are you under- or over-servicing your clients? Why isn’t your firm 20% profitable?
4. Will you be selling to partners or key staff?
If you’ve decided that you will not be selling to partners or key staff have you determined how strong the members of your management team are? Outside buyers will want to be sure the team left after you leave is a strong one so that they can help manage the client transition. Making sure your second tier of management is exceptionally strong is especially important if you, as the owner, have directed your company without a lot of C-level input. If this is your case, you need to start training your management team in leading your company. If you feel they cannot, it’s time to do that which must be done and either fire them and hire those who can lead your firm, or hire people above them who can take control.
5. Do you know where your firm is in regards to its health?
You must be brutally honest with yourself about this! Is your firm going through hard times, you’re burned out and you’d be willing to unload in a “fire sale?” Or are things going exceptionally well and you believe you can receive top dollar; or somewhere in between?
The decision to sell your firm must be well planned. You must consider all factors carefully and start the process well before your desired sale date.